Are the Tops of Dogs' Gums Supposed to Be Purple?

by Chris Miksen
    The German shepherd is a breed with darker-than-usual gums.

    The German shepherd is a breed with darker-than-usual gums.

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    Just because the tops of a pup's gums are purple doesn't necessarily mean he's unhealthy, weird or ate a plum. He may just naturally have darker gums. But pink gums that suddenly turn purple -- that's an entirely different story.

    When you look at the gums of most dogs, you see pink. But some breeds have dark pigmentation that ranges from dark blue to black on their tongues, cheeks and gums. Examples include chow chows, German shepherds and Shar-Peis. The dark pigmentation might manifest in the form of spots or as a solid color across the entirety of your pooch's gums.

    Purple gums can signify serious health problems, mostly centering around a lack of oxygen. DogChannel.com notes that hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout your pal's bloodstream and that, when hemoglobin without oxygen builds up in his gums, the tissue turns purple. Numerous conditions can cause oxygen deficiency, many of them serious, such as heart disease and pneumonia. Call your veterinarian right away if your dog's gums suddenly turn purple or if, even if they're normally purple, he exhibits symptoms of oxygen deprivation such as gagging, coughing, abnormally rapid breathing and loss of consciousness.

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    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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